Deaf Educator Tom Humphries on Campus for Superintendent's Conference Day

by Sarah Gorden, Dean of Students


RSD welcomed world-renowned researcher of deaf culture and bilingual, multimodal deaf education, Dr. Tom Humphries – along with Dr. Wyatte Hall, a local researcher and professor from the University of Rochester Medical Center – on Friday, April 8 for our Superintendent's Conference Day.  Dr. Humphries was in town as a featured speaker for the University of Rochester’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Leadership Summit.  He was also able to come to RSD to share some words of wisdom with our staff. 


Dr. Humphries described his recent research and writing on the risks of not exposing deaf children to signed language during the critical period of language and cognitive development in the early years of child development.  Comparable to not providing a child with food nutrition and social attention, not providing fully accessible language can create long-term effects of language deprivation.


Dr. Humphries and Dr. Hall had lunch with 10 staff afterwards.  There was rich discussion about school-wide language planning, ASL and English language development not always being linear with each other but supporting each other in spurts, and now to incorporate social justice in everything we do as educators. We left the lunch with deep questions to consider including, “are we making sure our students have language access equity? Are we always showing up mentally and emotionally to support our students?”


Dr. Humphries emphasized the importance of a bilingual school environment such as RSD, and looks forward to coming again for a future visit!